Our webpages must be accessible so we have our documents in printable/downloadable PDF version first, then we have the document in a webpage version. You may need to scroll through the page to find the document you are looking for.

Documents on this page:

  1. 4-H Membership Enrollment Instructions
  2. 4-H Horse Helmet Form
  3. Shooting Sports Release Form
  4. Structure for Families Brochure
  5. Flathead County Welcome Packet

Welcome! We are so happy you are interested in joining 4-H! New Enrollments are open all year. Note the annual  4-H enrollment fees are non-refundable. Re-enrollments are due by January 1st. Other enrollment deadlines are as follows:

Market Beef - November 1st

Market Swine - February 1st

Market Sheep - February 1st

Market Rabbit/Poultry - June 1st

Add and/or Drop all Projects - June 1st

Enroll in 4-H Enrollment System Link

 4-H Project Descriptions

4-H Membership Enrollment Instructions

Printable version of 4-H Membership Enrollment Instructions (PDF)

Montana 4-H is excited to make the switch to a NEW, more user friendly and updated, 4-H enrollment system. Beginning October 1, 2020 families can access their account and re-enroll using ZSUITE.

Below are the steps to find your family or household ZSuite account and enroll in 4-H for the new, 2020-2021 4-H year.

  1. 2.               3.         4.


Using your computer,        Click SIGN UP.                                                      Arrive at your

smart phone or other        Complete all of the fields. Use the FAMILY            HOUSEHOLD

device go to                      email address from 4honline as the ADULT      DASHBOARD. Click on

https://4h.zsuite.org/     EMAIL to connect your previous                        the name of the family

enrollment with ZSUITE.                                    member you want to re‑

If you are not sure what your "family email"            enroll, click on the blue

is contact your MSU Extension office and                 "start enrollment" button

they can tell you. Click LET'S GO.                          and follow the steps.

Structure for Families Brochure

Pritable version of Structure for Families Brochure (PDF)

Being a 4-H Parent

Montana 4-H Youth Development

Your Role


Parent’s Role in Project Work

  • Aid in selecting, financing, and managing.
  • Guide and support work without doing it for them.
  • Encourage follow-through and completion.
  • Give praise and encouragement.
  • Assist in gathering tools and supplies.
  • Encourage record keeping.
  • Provide support and transportation.
  • Assist organizational, project and activity leaders.
  • Become a project or activity leader.
  • Serve on committees to plan and implement club activities or project meetings.
  • Become a certified 4-H volunteer.


Family’s Role in 4-H

Encourage participation in 4-H programs at the local and county level and to assist in the development of the 4-H member.

Support local and county 4-H program through time, talent, and financial support.

Work cooperatively with other families and 4-H volunteers.

Participate in Parent-Volunteer Training to enhance personal knowledge of 4-H .


Guide 4-H project work.

Doing it for them does not develop life skills.


4-H Project Work

Consider the following when guiding a child in selecting a 4-H project.

  • Interests, needs, and capabilities of the child
  • Opportunity for sufficient challenge and growth
  • Family situation
  • Availability of adequate financing
  • Availability of equipment and space
  • Availability of leadership for the project


4-H Projects provide opportunities for:

  • Participation
  • Developing communication skills
  • Keeping records
  • Productive leisure time
  • Sharing ideas
  • Recognition

4-H provides a world of opportunity.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Montana State University and the Montana State University Extension Service prohibit discrimination in all of their programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital and family status.



4-H is a family affair.

4-H helps develop family unity by providing an opportunity to do things together.

4-H families become part of a larger extended family.


Members benefit when parents are involved in 4-H. Parents and volunteers who take time to learn about and understand 4 -H are of greater assistance to their child and the 4-H program.


Members need parental encouragement to see project work through. Keep members focused on what they are learning, not just winning.


Your time, talents, and assistance strengthen the total 4-H program.


Parents are important people.

The time, talents, and assistance provided by parents strengthen the total 4-H program.

Parent participation strengthens the local 4-H club.

Parents are needed to chaperone and provide transportation for local and county 4-H events. 4-H members may need your assistance to provide refreshments at club meetings.


Parents are needed to assume leadership roles.

A healthy club requires more than one organizational leader providing leadership for everything and everyone. As a vital link in the 4-H leadership team, parents will be asked to serve on local and county committees. The committees will plan and conduct events and activities. Adults are encouraged to create healthy youth-adult partnerships within the committee structure.


A parent may be asked to share subject matter knowledge with a project group. The subject matter could include a hobby or occupation. It may even include scheduling a tour or field trip. This may even lead to a parent serving as project and activity leaders for other 4-H members.


Parents must stay informed.

Communication is vital in supporting your child’s 4 -H experience.

It is the family’s responsibility to read and respond, in a timely manner, to the newsletter, yearbook, and written correspondence received from local and county programs.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions of local and county volunteers and extension staff.


Parents receive many levels of satisfaction from 4-H.

They enjoy seeing their children and other children grow and develop.

Parents grow personally through new experiences and challenges.

Parents also have the satisfaction of serving the community through 4-H.

4-H Pledge

I pledge

My head to clearer thinking,

My heart to greater loyalty,

My hands to larger service, and

My health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

4-H Parents Pledge

I pledge my Head to give my child the information I can, to help him/her see things clearly and to make wise decisions.

I pledge my Heart to encourage and support my child no matter whether he/she has success or disappointments.

I pledge my Hands to help my child’s club; if I can-not be a leader, I can help in many equally important ways.

I pledge my Health to keep my child strong and well for a better world through 4-H, for my child’s club, our community, our country, and our world.

Georgia 4-H, 1982

Flathead County Extension

1108 S. Main St. Suite 4

Kalispell, MT 59901

Phone: 406-758-5553

Fax: 406-758-5881

Email: [email protected]

Flathead County Welcome Packet

Printable version of Flathead County Welcome Packet (PDF)

        Welcome to

Flathead County 4-H

New 4-H Club Member

Welcome Packet 

MSU Extension, Flathead County

1108 South Main Street Ste. 4

Kalispell, MT 59901

[email protected]

(406) 758-5553 phone

(406)758-5881 fax


Targeting Life Skills Model (VI-960601 PH) used with permission from Iowa State University and Patricia A. Hendricks.



“New 4-H Club Member Welcome Packet” was written in part by Donna M. Carter, Assistant Professor Utah State University.



Welcome Letter........................................................................................................................................... 1

Parent & Guardian Roles............................................................................................................................ 2

Frequently Asked Questions.................................................................................................................... 3-5

How 4-H Is Organized................................................................................................................................. 6

4-H Project List............................................................................................................................................ 7

4-H Projects................................................................................................................................................. 8

Leadership Opportunities in 4-H................................................................................................................. 9

4-H Record Books..................................................................................................................................... 10

The County Fair.................................................................................................................................... 11-12

4-H Public Speaking.................................................................................................................................. 13

Experiential Learning Model...................................................................................................................... 14

This I Believe............................................................................................................................................. 15

4-H Pledge................................................................................................................................................. 16

Dear New 4-H Family,


Welcome to 4-H! You have just enrolled in one of the greatest youth development programs in the nation. In fact, with 6.8 million youth involved nationwide, 4-H is the largest out-of-school educational program in the country.


The purpose of this welcome packet is to give you an overview of the opportunities and resources available to help your family have an incredible experience in 4-H. Keep in mind that this is only an overview. Your best way to stay informed is to meet regularly with your club leader and to read the monthly Extension newsletter. Your family will start receiving this free, monthly publication once we receive your 4-H enrollment forms from your club leader.  


The 4-H program is so large and the opportunities so vast that it can sometimes seem a little overwhelming when you are new. Just keep in mind that your family’s 4-H experience can be tailor-made to fit your goals, schedule and interests. That is one reason 4-H is such a great program for Montana families. You can be involved as a whole family, learning and growing together.


When describing 4-H to someone new, we often use the analogy of a super department store. 4-H is like a “store” full of wonderful, fun, positive educational programs. It has pretty much every type of workshop, project, contest, trip, conference, camp, or activity you could possibly want or need. It is just up to your family to decide what and how much you want and to determine what things fit into your schedule and your budget. Your club leader and Extension staff members are like the “greeters” at the front of the store to help you find what you need. We are here to answer your questions, so please do not hesitate to call.


Keep in mind that the leader in your club is a volunteer. Like all of us, your leader is more than willing to do his or her part, but, your leader also wants help. Your club will be able to accomplish so much more if parents and guardians share some of the responsibilities with the leader. Ask your leader what you can do to support your child’s club. If we all take a small piece of the pie, it makes everyone’s involvement more manageable and fun!


The local Extension office is located at 1108 South Main St. Ste. 4, Kalispell, and the mailing address is 1108 South Main St. Ste. 4; Kalispell, MT 59901. Office hours are M-Th, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Fri 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Closed 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. for lunch.  


Again, welcome to the wonderful world of 4-H!  




Rick Balestri

4-H & Youth Development Agent



First and foremost, 4-H is a family program – a place where parents and their children can learn and grow together. In 4-H you, as the parent or guardian, are very important. You are always invited and encouraged to participate in all 4-H club activities. We recognize every family’s schedule is different and you may not be able to attend every club function, but there are many different ways that you can contribute to your child’s 4-H group.


Your 4-H club leader will want to know about your interests and talents, and how you would like to support your child’s 4-H group. Because 4-H has so many diverse experiences, we have discovered that every adult can find a parent volunteer role that matches their interests and the club’s needs. Some possible helping roles include providing refreshments, supplies, or other resources for a club meeting, helping members with their projects, chaperoning a club field trip, organizing a club service project, or coordinating the club’s end-of-the-year recognition program. Your club leader may have other suggestions.


As a parent or guardian, these are the following roles you need to fulfill:


  • Provide transportation for your child to and from 4-H events.


  • Help your child learn to recite the 4-H pledge.


  • Attend 4-H club functions with your child whenever possible. Children 5-8 should always have a parent or guardian attend meetings with them. Horse club members, regardless of age, should always have a parent at each riding practice and horse shows.


  • Guide your child as he or she selects a 4-H project and help develop goals that are challenging, but also realistic. Encourage project work by making it a family learning experience.
  • If your child serves in a leadership role within the club, help him or her fulfill the duties of the office.


  • Read the month Extension e-newsletter so you will know the details of upcoming events. Contact the Extension office and share your email address with us. Then you will automatically start receiving this e-publication.



  • The 4-H staff will provide county-wide training on project, demonstrations, and other important 4-H learning experiences. Try to participate in these classes and workshops. By understanding more about our various 4-H programs, you can help your child excel and take advantage of all that 4-H has to offer.


  • Attend your club’s end-of-the-year celebration with your child and attend the 4-H Awards Banquet (the county-wide awards program) as a family. Recognition always means more to children when their family is there to share it with them.



What do the four “H’s” stand for on the 4-H clover emblem?
The “H’s” stand for: head, heart, hands, and health, which reflect the whole development of a child.


What is the 4-H pledge?   Members recite the American and 4-H pledges at the opening of each club meeting. You should work with your child to help him or her memorize the 4-H pledge and the proper hand motions.

What is the 4-H motto? “To Make the Best Better”


What are the 4-H colors? The 4-H colors are green and white.


How did 4-H begin? 4-H began in the early 1900s as Corn Clubs for boys and Tomato Canning Clubs for girls. Although the program has changed a lot through the years, it has always been a program designed to help children become productive members of their communities. Montana State 4-H program celebrated its 100th birthday in 2012. Flathead County 4-H program will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2017.


Do I have to live on a farm to join 4-H? No!   Although 4-H began as a program for rural children, today 4-H is available for all children whether they live on a farm, in town, or in the city.


Do boys and girls attend different clubs? No. All 4-H clubs are open to both boys and girls.


How old do you have to be to join a 4-H club? Children can join a 4-H club as soon as they are in at least five years old, and they can stay involved until they they’re 18 (please note special age requirements to participate in shooting, beef and horse projects). In addition, many colleges offer collegiate 4-H clubs, including Montana State University!


How do I enroll in 4-H? Enrolling in a club is easy. Complete the 4-H registration & release forms and pay your enrollment fee. Your club leader will add you to their 4-H club enrollment and submit the information to the 4-H office. Re-enrollment is done on an annual basis starting in October.


How long does my enrollment last? Enrollment ends on September 30 each year. Only currently enrolled members are eligible to participate in 4-H contests.


What is a 4-H membership card? When your club leader sees your enrollment online at https://mt.4honline.com for your club, he or she will receive a membership list for each officially enrolled member (fees paid, release forms signed, club enrollment form complete).   The membership list will be kept current through September 30 and identifies your child as a Flathead County 4-H member.


What is the 4-H year timeline? The 4-H year begins on October 1 and continues through the following September. The 4-H year kicks off with National 4-H Week during the first full week of October. This schedule makes perfect sense when you consider that youth work all year long to complete projects to enter in the county fair.


Can we join 4-H at any time during the year? Yes; however, each club may have their own “cut off” date for accepting new members for the year. Either way, all youth must be enrolled with the 4-H office by June 1 to be allowed to exhibit in the county fair (must be enrolled by tagging date for livestock members).


Can my children join more than one club? Yes. This sometimes occurs when a child wants to explore a project area that is not offered through his or her primary club, but is offered through another club. Being a club member is an important responsibility for both members and their parents. Give careful consideration to the time your family can commit to support more than one club. Parents will have to decide the best balance of 4-H involvement for their family.


Are clubs organized by age divisions? Most clubs operate with children from a wide variety of ages. It is a little more challenging to keep everyone’s interest when there is a wide age span, but there are also the benefits of younger youth learning from the knowledge and example of older youth, as well as leadership opportunities for older youth.


What are the age classifications for competitive events?   Unless specifically stated by a particular project, age classifications for Flathead County 4-H club members are: Cloverbud Member: ages 5-7; Junior Member: ages 8-13; Senior Member: ages 14-18. Ages are as of October 1 of the current 4-H year, which spans from October 1 through September 30 of the next year. 


Here are some examples for clarification: As long as a child turns age 5 on or before October 1, he/she can join 4-H as a Cloverbud member. If a member turns 8 years old on or before October 1, he/she is a Junior. Senior 4-H club members must turn age 14 on or before October 1. If a teen turns 19yrs of age on or before October 1, he cannot join or re-enroll in 4-H, but is encouraged to serve as a 4-H volunteer. Collegiate 4-H Clubs are available at many colleges and universities for those wishing to continue 4-H activities into their early twenties.


What is a cloverbud? Children aged 5-7 are known as “cloverbuds.” These children are full 4-H members and can participate in a wide range of programs and activities. However, because research has shown that competition at this age might be detrimental, cloverbud members are not allowed to participate in competitive events. These members doparticipate in many camps, events and the county fair, but their work just isn’t “judged” and compared to other children’s work. They receive participation ribbons for fair entries.


Besides the no-competition rule, are there any other special age rules? Yes! Children must be 9yrs old or older to participate in the shooting sports program and they must be at least 10yrs old to take a steer project. Horse projects also have specific age requirements that must be adhered to in order to compete. If you have any question, please call the Extension office or talk with your 4-H volunteer leader.


What does it cost to join a 4-H club? The current enrollment fee for Flathead County 4-H is $25.00 per member and $10 for Cloverbuds. There is also a $5 fee for youth enrolled in market livestock projects, and $5 for youth enrolled in the horse project. These fees are non-refundable.  Some clubs will assess “dues” for each member to cover the cost of the project supplies. Dues vary from club to club depending on the projects selected. For example, the costs would be very different for a horse project versus a woodworking or gardening project.


Do parents and guardians attend meetings with their children? Yes! 4-H is a family program. Parents/guardians are encouraged to attend club meetings and 4-H events with their child. It is a great way for families to learn and grow together. A parent, guardian or adult helper should always be present at each club meeting for Cloverbuds. In addition, horse club members, regardless of age, must always have a parent or guardian present during riding practice and horse shows.


Can my family choose which county 4-H program we join? 4-H is organized at the county level. Children participate in the county 4-H program in which they live.


How do I become a leader? Whether you are interested in becoming a leader to assist your child’s club leader or organizing a new club, becoming a 4-H leader is easy. Complete a 4-H volunteer application with a fee of $40 ($10 Leader fee and $30 background check) and attend New Leader’s Orientation. You will be interviewed by a 4-H staff member and references will be checked as part of the volunteer screening process. Applications are available at the 4-H office.


Do I have to go through the official “4-H leader” process if I just want to lead a club for my own children? Yes.   All leaders go through the same application and screening process. You and your children will greatly benefit from the knowledge you gain through New Leader’s Orientation and subsequent leader trainings.


Does 4-H provide insurance for my child? As part of your child’s club enrollment, they are covered by a small accident insurance policy. The policy provides coverage only for official 4-H functions. In the event your child gets injured at a 4-H event, notify your leader and the local 4-H office as soon as possible.


How do I stay informed about 4-H opportunities? Read the electronic Extension newsletter. It will give you all the details about upcoming programs. Also visit the county 4-H Web site at http://montana.edu/extension/flathead/.


Many people think of 4-H as an independent organization, but it is part of a system. As part of the United States Department of Agriculture and the Cooperative Extension System of state land-grant universities and colleges, the 4-H Youth Development Program is built on the nation’s best research, education and practice, through each state's and grant university. In Montana, we are part of Montana State University.


This means that your Extension staff members are supported with resources from land-grant universities across the nation. Just take a look at our research-based curriculum and you can feel complete confidence in 4-H as a sound, educational organization. And, 4-H has have been around for over a century!


There is an Extension office in most every county throughout the nation, which serves as the local headquarters for 4-H. The 4-H program is administered at the county level by the County 4-H Extension Agent, with support and leadership from the State 4-H Youth Development Office.


Your 4-H Extension Agent works for Montana State University Extension at the Flathead County Office and is a professor for Montana State University.  The MSU Extension staff members here in Flathead County who administrate the 4-H Program are:


Many volunteer organizations that provide strong support for the Flathead County 4-H Program. These include:


  • Flathead County 4-H Council: The 4-H council leadership is led by 4-H volunteers and Extension staff. The 4-H Council providesfunding for in-county programing and activities with approval from the MSU Extension office. It's voting membership is comprised of two representatives from each 4-H club, youth members or audit leader, and meets quarterly.


  • The Darrell Fenner Loon Lake 4-H Camp Committee: This organization is led by 4-H volunteers and Extension staff. It provides leadership and guidance for the 4-H Camp that is near Ferndale.


  • Flathead County 4-H Ag/Livestock Committee: This organization is governed by 4-H volunteers and Extension staff. It provides leadership and guidance for the local 4-H Livestock Programs.


  • Flathead County 4-H Beef Committee: This organization is governed by 4-H volunteers and Extension staff. It provides leadership and guidance for the local 4-H Beef Program.


  • Flathead County 4-H Sheep Committee: This organization is governed by 4-H volunteers and Extension staff. It provides leadership and guidance for the local 4-H Sheep Program.


  • Flathead County 4-H Hog Committee: This organization is governed by 4-H volunteers and Extension staff. It provides leadership and guidance for the local 4-H Swine Program.


  • Flathead County 4-H Horse Committee: This organization is governed by 4-H volunteers and Extension staff. It provides leadership and guidance for the local 4-H Horse Program.


  • Flathead County 4-H Ambassadors: This organization is a leadership group for Flathead County 4-H teens. It's led by adult volunteers and Extension staff. It provides leadership opportunities and skill development for teen 4-H members.


  • Flathead County 4-H Meat Rabbit and Poultry Committee: This organization is governed by 4-H volunteers and Extension Staff, providing leadership for the meat rabbit and meat poultry projects.


  • Flathead County 4-H Foundation: The Foundation is led by community leaders, 4-H volunteers and Extension staff. It plans and implements funding for 4-H Programs.



Project work is at the heart of 4-H. As youth work to complete a 4-H project, a lot more is happening that “just” learning new skills. In fact, project work encompasses all four “H’s” – head, heart, hands, and health. Take for instance a young person working on a sewing project. His or her project-related activities may involve…




Mental Development: Gaining deeper knowledge and reasoning abilities.


  • Learning how to select a pattern that is properly sized
  • Utilizing smart consumer skills when shopping for fabric, equipment, and sewing notions
  • Calculating the correct amount of fabric to purchase for various fabric widths




Emotional Development: Developing interests, appreciation and wholesome attitudes.


  • Working as a team with fellow club members to select a sewing project to complete
  • Caring for the less fortunate by sewing Christmas stockings for area needy children



Skills Development: Developing the ability to do, skill in doing, and the habit of doing.


  • Demonstrating the ability to properly thread a sewing machine and bobbin
  • Becoming skilled in sewing straight and curved seams that follow the correct seam allowance
  • Completing a sewing project utilizing correct techniques


Physical Development: Developing an understanding and appreciation of a growing and changing body.


  • Learning to select garments that are flattering for body shape
  • Developing poise and demonstrating good body posture when modeling at the Fashion Revue

What is a project? Each 4-H member will have an opportunity to select one or more projects to learn about during the year. A project is simply a subject the member wants to explore. Projects are completely self-paced. A member may work on a project over the whole year or only spend a few weeks or months on a specific project. One member may choose to explore the same topic for many years, gaining in-depth knowledge of the project. Another member may prefer to explore a wide variety of projects during his or her years in 4-H.


In most cases, the member will end up with one or more finished exhibits to enter in the fair from each project he or she selects. With more than a hundred projects available, there is something to interest every child.


How many projects can we select? There is no limit to the number of projects a member can select; however, parents and leaders should help guide members in setting realistic, but challenging goals. It is always better to complete fewer projects that reflect quality workmanship than to rush and complete a lot of poorer quality projects.  


How do we select a project? In most cases, club members and leaders will meet together to decide which projects they want to complete during the year. Members work on their projects together at club meetings. A club leader, parent volunteer, community resource person, or perhaps an older 4-H member will teach the clubs’ project lessons.


Occasionally a member will want to explore a project in which the leader is not proficient or not of interest to other club members. Children are certainly welcome to work on projects outside of their club meetings. They may seek guidance from their parents, community organizations, or other experts in the field to assist them in acquiring these new skills.


What is a 4-H project workbook? 4-H offers project workbook to help guide members’ learning experiences. These written manuals provide age-appropriate, hands-on lessons to help youth acquire new skills and knowledge. There are youth workbooks and adult helper manuals.


Please keep in mind that you are not required to utilize a project workbook to guide your child’s 4-H project, but you will find it very helpful. Also, do not feel like your child has to complete every learning activity listed in the project manual. Think of the project workbook as a useful resource for you, rather than a “to do” list of activities that must be completed.


A common question is, “Does my child have to start with the first project workbook?” The answer is no. Our project workbooks are written by Extension faculty members throughout the nation. They are carefully piloted to ensure the activities are fun, well-designed, and developmentally appropriate, but keep in mind, each child is an individual. They may come into a project with previous experience and skills. For example, a 13-year-old child who has already been involved in a lot of woodworking activities may choose to utilize the third workbook instead of starting with the first.


How do we find out what 4-H project workbooks are available? A current list of the 4-H project workbooks is available on the county Web site in a book called the “Clover.” Though the price varies, the average fee for most workbooks is about five dollars. To help in selecting a project, you are welcome to view our project workbooks at the 4-H office.




Developing leadership skills is a very important aspect of 4-H. Serving as a club officer is one way for members to build their leadership abilities. The club officers, with support from their 4-H club leader, will lead the business portion of the 4-H club meeting.  

Clubs with mostly cloverbud members usually do not have elected officers; rather they often have rotating club helpers who assist the club leader. This is a more age-appropriate leadership experience for our younger members. In clubs with a wide range of members, officers are generally selected by election. Most clubs will elect the following officers:


  • President: Presides at the club meeting using parliamentary procedure and works to ensure that all members get a chance to share their ideas and participate in the business meeting.
  • Vice President: Greets, introduces, and thanks presenters at club meetings and presides at the club meeting using parliamentary procedure in the president’s absence.
  • Secretary: Keeps accurate minutes of the business meeting, keeps accurate attendance records, and writes letters and thank you notes on behalf of the club.
  • Treasurer: Keeps accurate financial records for the club. Usually, the club leader maintains the club’s checkbook or monies. The treasurer provides the oral report of income and expenses at each business meeting.
  • Song Leader: Leads songs during the 4-H club meeting.
  • Recreation Leader: Leads games during the 4-H club meeting. The officer should plan a recreational activity that is suited for the location of the club meeting and appropriate for the number of members.


Your club may modify the specific duties of each officer role. In addition, your club may choose to elect other officers besides the ones listed above. If so, the club leader will explain the duties.  


It is important that children have meaningful leadership roles. Creating a bunch of officer positions so everyone has a job teaches the wrong message about leadership! Keep in mind that children do not have to be a club officer to have important leadership roles in their club.



Being an officer is not the only way to develop leadership skills. Youth can develop these skills in many formal and informal ways, such as:


  • serving on a club committee
  • leading the pledges
  • giving a club talk or demonstration for club members
  • helping younger club members learn a new skill
  • helping the leader set up or clean up after a club meeting


Youth elected to serve as club or county officers are strongly encouraged to attend 4-H Officer Trainings to learn how to fulfill their officer role. They will receive an officer’s notebook that will help them learn how to conduct a 4-H club business meeting. Officers are installed at the beginning of the year. Parents are welcome to attend this ceremony.



A record book is a written summary of a member’s 4-H experiences, using standardized 4-H record book forms.   The record book includes:

  1. Size and scope and skills and knowledge gained for each project
  2. Learning experiences
  3. Leadership
  4. Community service
  5. Non-4-H experiences
  6. Story
  7. Pictures

Why Should We Do Record Books? Youth learn many important skills as they work on their record books, including organizational skills, creative writing skills, the ability to assess “value” to the products of their project work (i.e., dollars earned, money saved), learning to identify skills and knowledge gained, record-keeping skills, and the ability to positively share their work through photos and captions.  

Beyond these important skills, a well-documented record book will benefit your child in many tangible ways including:

  1. They will be able to participate in record book interviews each year.
  2. Record books become a fabulous resource that helps your child beyond their 4-H involvement. For example, it becomes a useful tool in applying for college, non-4-H scholarships, state or international exchanges, intern positions, or jobs.
  3. A record book helps to “steer” your child into those types of 4-H experiences that will really push him or her to grow and develop, such as leadership roles, community service, and public speaking.

Members will want to start work on their record book very early in their 4-H career and maintain their records each year. It is very wise to attend 4-H record book trainings during your child’s first year in 4-H. It is so much easier to know what, how and when to document their 4-H activities, than to try to go back later and remember all the things that they did.  



One of the highlights of the year for 4-H members is being able to exhibit their completed projects in the Northwest Montana Fair, which is our Flathead County Fair opportunity.


When is the fair? The NW Montana Fair is held in August each year at the Fairgrounds in Kalispell. As part of the fair, members have an opportunity to compete in horse, livestock, and small animal shows, as well as enter completed projects for the indoor exhibits.


Who can enter the fair? Any Flathead County 4-H member who meets the enrollment, tagging and other requirement deadlines can participate in the fair.


What projects can we enter in the fair? The Flathead County Fair Board will print and distribute the fair catalog, listing all the 4-H and open classes that can be entered. Generally, classes do not change a lot from year to year, so you can look at previous catalogs to get ideas for projects to enter in the fair.


LIVESTOCK EXHIBITS: Extension staff will announce the dates to have 4-H livestock animals tagged. Tagging identifies the members’ project animal(s) and ensures the member has had the animal in their possession for the minimum length of time required. At fair time, animals need to be brought to the Fairgrounds at the designated time for official weigh-in.

  • There are livestock commitment forms that need to be read and signed by all 4-H members taking market livestock projects. There are also subject-matter seminars and livestock quality assurance classes that must be taken at certain times throughout the project. Please contact your 4-H leader or the Extension office for more information.


HORSE EXHIBITS: Each exhibitor must complete a horse card form by the announced deadline to show at the county fair. There is also an expectation that members taking the horse project will participate in at least one horse clinic throughout the year. Horse Helmet Education is required once as a junior member and once as a senior member. In order to transition to different levels of the horse project, all participants must be assessed by a certified horse leader.


OTHER ANIMAL EXHIBITS: There are numerous opportunities in which club members can exhibit animal projects (rabbits, goats, poultry, etc.). Follow the guidelines in the fair catalog to enter a project animal in these shows.

THE COUNTY FAIR (continued)


How are exhibits judged?

Indoor Exhibits: All 4-H exhibits are judged on the Danish judging system with each entry earning a blue, red or white ribbon. In addition, there are Grand and Reserve winners, as well as a number of exhibitor awards.


Livestock Exhibits: Grand and Reserve Champions are selected for each species and will receive a rosette and an award. Livestock exhibits are judged on the Danish judging system, with each entry earning a blue, red or white ribbon. In addition, showmanship awards are also presented and special awards may be presented based upon sponsorship (see catalog).


Horse Exhibits: Grand and Reserve Champions are selected for each discipline and will receive a rosette and an award. Disciplines are judged on the Danish judging system, with each entry earning a blue, red or white ribbon. In addition, showmanship awards are also presented and special awards may be presented based upon sponsorship (see catalog).


When are exhibits released?


Indoor Exhibits: Entries must be picked up from the Fairgrounds on the date indicated by the county fair and premiums are dispersed via the NWMT Fairgrounds (see catalog).


Livestock/Small Animal Exhibits: The release date for each animal is listed in the fair catalog. Early release is not allowed.


All members are encouraged to start developing their public speaking skills by giving club talks. Youth preparing club talks will receive certificates. The club talks are not judged.


What is a club talk? A club talk is a simple presentation about a topic of interest to the member. It is usually something related to a project he or she has been exploring.  


How long is a club talk? Depending on the child’s age and previous experience, the talk may be very short, or it may last for five minutes or so. The time is not important. The important thing is that club members begin to feel comfortable speaking in front of a group in a supportive, non-competitive environment.


What is the proper format for a club talk? As the child gains experience and confidence, he or she will want to give a more thorough club talk that includes all three components of a speech: an introduction, the body, and a summary. Children will want to use posters or other props to help them share their information. It is always more interesting for the audience to see, rather than just to listen.




The next step in a member’s development is to participate in competitive public speaking experiences. 4-H offers a variety of demonstration and public speaking contests throughout the year.

Preparing a speech or a demonstration for competition really helps youth develop poise and confidence in front of an audience. They learn to organize their thoughts, utilize effective delivery techniques, and develop attractive visual aids that will help hold the audience’s attention. They also gain increased knowledge about their project area as they prepare and deliver a speech or demonstration. It is often said, “You don’t really know something until you teach it.”

Depending on the child’s age and the category selected, he or she will have an opportunity to compete in County Congress, our county competition, and may even be chosen for state, and in some cases, national competition.


In 4-H, youth “learn by doing.” The experiential learning model below describes the five steps that allow youth to fully benefit from a learning experience or activity.

Experiential learning takes place when a person involved in an activity looks back and evaluates it, determines what was useful or important to remember, and uses this information to perform another activity.  


- John Dewey

Youth do before being told or shown how.


Youth use the skills learned in other parts of their lives.

Youth describe results of the experience and their reactions.

Youth connect the discussion to the larger world.

Youth relate the experience to the learning objectives (life skills and/or subject matter).


This I Believe…


  • The 4-H boy and girl are more important than the 4-H projects.


  • 4-H is not trying to replace the home, the church, and the school, only to supplement them.


  • 4-H’ers are their own best exhibit.


  • No 4-H award is worth sacrificing the reputation of a 4-H member or leader.


  • Competition is a natural human trait and should be recognized as such in 4-H club work. It should be given no more emphasis than other fundamentals of 4-H.


  • Learning how to do the project is more important than the project itself.


  • A blue ribbon 4-H’er with a red ribbon pig is more desirable than a red ribbon 4-H’er with a blue ribbon


  • To “learn by doing” is fundamental in any sound educational program and is characteristic of the 4-H program.


  • Generally speaking, there is more than one good way of doing most things.


  • Every 4-H member needs to be noticed, to be important, to achieve, and to be praised.


  • Our job is to teach 4-H members HOW to think, NOT what to think.



 I pledge,

my head to clearer thinking,

my heart to greater loyalty,

my hands to larger service, and

my health to better living, for

my club, my community,

my country, and my world.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Montana State University and the Montana State University Extension Service prohibit discrimination in all of their programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital and family status. Issued in furtherance of cooperative extension work in agriculture and home economics, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cody Stone Director, Extension Service, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717